Ion-specific ice recrystallization provides a facile approach for the fabrication of porous materials

SW Wu and CQ Zhu and ZY He and H Xue and QR Fan and YL Song and JS Francisco and XC Zeng and JJ Wang, NATURE COMMUNICATIONS, 8, 15154 (2017).

DOI: 10.1038/ncomms15154

Ice recrystallization is of great importance to both fundamental research and practical applications, however understanding and controlling ice recrystallization processes remains challenging. Here, we report the discovery of an ion-specific effect on ice recrystallization. By simply changing the initial type and concentration of ions in an aqueous solution, the size of ice grains after recrystallization can be tuned from 27.4 +/- 4.1 to 277.5 +/- 30.9 mm. Molecular dynamics simulations show that the ability of the ion to be incorporated into the ice phase plays a key role in the ultimate size of the ice grains after recrystallization. Moreover, by using recrystallized ice crystals as templates, 2D and 3D porous networks with tuneable pore sizes could be prepared from various materials, for example, NaBr, collagen, quantum dots, silver and polystyrene colloids. These porous materials are suitable for a wide range of applications, for example, in organic electronics, catalysis and bioengineering.

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